post

Buy A New Home or Existing Home? Debunking Common New Home Construction Beliefs

When it comes to buying a house, the million dollar question is: Do you buy a new home or existing home?

Home buyers can be hesitant to build a new home over buying a home that’s being resold. However, this typically stems from fear of the unknown. Essentially, home buyers haven’t been equipped with all the facts when it comes to new home construction.

So we’re debunking popular common held beliefs when it comes to building a home vs. buying older real estate, so you can feel educated when making the right decision for you and your family.

THE ASSUMPTION THAT NEW CONSTRUCTION HOMES WILL EXCEED YOUR BUDGET
The main factor driving a home buyer’s choice between new home construction and an existing home is price point. Home buyers automatically assume that building a new home will exceed their budget.

However, there are a few contingencies that the home buyer should take into consideration:

  • Home Buyer Incentives: Unlike buying an existing home, home builders often offer lucrative incentives to help the home buyer up front. Incentives can include closing costs, upgrades, free appliances or other attractive offers that make the home more affordable and/or comfortable long-term.
  • Less Repair Costs: When home buyers build a new home, they are investing in the ease of a turnkey home, which often comes with fewer unexpected repairs than buyers of existing homes.
    • According to Zillow’s 2019 Consumer Housing Trends Report, more than 8 in 10 (83%) of existing home buyers say they repaired or renovated their homes within the first year of ownership.
    • More than half (54%) had to make a major repair or renovation within the first month of getting the keys.
    • Compared to new construction buyers: 48% of buyers who purchased a brand-new home in the past two years still haven’t had to make a single repair or renovation.

TIMING & HASSLE TO BUILD A HOME:
Home buyers think that buying a new home means the hassle of choosing a lot, picking designs and features and waiting for the home to be built. Although those reasons are why a lot of home buyers choose to build a new home, others need a more immediate solution for their family. Therefore, they think their only option is existing homes.

The reality is that more than half of a home builder’s inventory is quick, move-in ready homes. Meaning, these home are already built yet brand new and waiting for their forever family. The beauty of buying a quick, move-in ready home is that you get the newness of a home with the move-in timeline of an existing home. It’s a win/win!

To view our available quick, move-in homes, click here.

CONCERN ABOUT QUALITY OF CONSTRUCTION OR MATERIALS

According to Zillow, 26% of buyers who didn’t follow through with a new construction home had concerns about the quality of construction or building materials.

Over time, residential building codes and materials have significantly improved to ensure top-notch safety, design and construction of a new home.

Existing single-family homes, town homes and other real estate were likely built 10, 20, 30+ years prior to a home buyer purchase. Although the home likely sustained numerous updates throughout the aging of the home, in addition to quality inspections before closing on the home; a home buyer really never knows the state of an older home they are inheriting

HOME BUYERS THINK THAT SOME COSTS AND UPGRADES FOR NEW HOME CONSTRUCTION WEREN’T TRANSPARENT UNTIL THEY PURCHASED THE HOME

To be exact, 26% of home buyers who bought a new home in 2019 say that they did not understand the full breakdown of costs prior to building a new home.

We are unsure of the home cost transparency that’s afforded by other home builders; however we pride ourselves on handling the home buying process as if it were us buying the home.  Our New Home Sales Consultants provide price sheets and itemized personalization costs, as well as set clear expectations for the home buyer during model and showcase home walk-throughs. Costs and fees pertaining to lots, upgrades and everything in between, in addition to when each installment is due throughout the process is communicated from the beginning.

HOME BUYERS BELIEVE THAT THEY CAN’T GET THE SAME “CHARM” THAT COMES WITH AN OLDER STYLE HOME

The good news is with a new home build, you get to make your new home what you want! With a variety of floor plans, exterior colors and features, design selections, unique upgrades and more, you get to personalize each part of your home. The uniqueness you infuse into your new construction home will give it the exact “charm” you were envisioning.

Additionally, although your new home may not have the same look as an aged home, the communities we build in are mature and preserve a beautiful and homey feel.

HOME BUYERS FEEL THEY MAY BE OVERWHELMED BY THE UNKNOWN OF THE HOME BUILDING PROCESS

With any home builder, the New Home Specialist should create a road map for the home buyer that includes the following to help create transparency and trust and set expectations up front.

Home Building Process

  • Expected timeline
  • Cost breakdown
  • Design Studio Selections
  • Warranties
  • Home Owner Walk-Throughs and Orientation
  • Estimated Closing
  • …and everything in between.

In general, the home building process looks a lot like the below:

  1. Get a pre approval letter. Special incentives offered by using our preferred lender, Vision Lending.
  2. Pick a neighborhood
  3. Pick a floor plan, pick your structural options
  4. Pick from our available lots
  5. Sign the contract. We can conveniently send you our contract via email so you can sign from anywhere in the world.
  6. Pay builder deposit. We can also email you an invoice for your builder deposit to pay online. The builder deposit amount will vary depending on the sales price amount.
  7. Attend your design appointment within 2 weeks of signing your contract. We can also do a video call so you can design your home remotely. We can also email you an invoice if you want to add any additional items.
  8. Meet with the builder 4 times throughout your home build process.
  9. Sign your closing documents at the attorney’s office. Congratulations on your New Home purchase!
  10. Transfer utilities in your name
  11. Register with your neighborhood HOA for access to amenities
  12. Warranty will follow up. Our warranty team will be there for you with your 1 year builder warranty.

Throughout the home buying process, the home buyer should also have constant communication with either their New Home Specialist or their builder so they know where their home build stands at any given moment.

HOME BUYERS THINK THAT THE LOANS, SPECIFICALLY FOR NEW CONSTRUCTION, WILL BE A HASSLE OR CONFUSING

We offer our home buyers our preferred lender, Vision Lending. Our Vision Lending loan officers, Chung and Jason, will handle your mortgage pre-approval that will give you a realistic idea of your down payment and budget, and give you more negotiating power when you make an offer.

Our home buyers have a peace of mind through the process as our preferred lender goes above and beyond to hold their hands every step of the way.

So what do you think, should you buy a new home or existing home?

If you’re in the market for a new home and are trying to decide whether buying a new home or an existing home is right for you, we’d love to have a conversation with you. We’ll be happy to answer any questions about the home buying and home building process, so you feel like you have full clarity when it comes time to make an offer – on new home construction or older real estate.

Feel free to fill out the form below and one of our friendly and knowledgeable Online Home Specialists will be in touch with you shortly.

 

Our home buyers become family … thank you to all of our home owners for choosing McKee Homes!

post

16 Ways to Lower Your Energy Bill

Do you know that you can lower your energy bill by as much as 25% with only minimal tweaks to your everyday use? With the heat pumping on overdrive, the winter months can make the cost of your utilities skyrocket. That’s why we’re giving you our top 16 tips to lower your energy bill, from lighting, water, heating and cooling, and everything in between.

Heating and cooling

Home heating and cooling are 10 of the biggest culprits behind hefty utility bills — and the best places to look for cost-cutting opportunities.

  1. Watch your thermostat. When you’re asleep or away from home, set your thermostat back 10 degrees. You can cut your annual heat and cooling costs by an estimated 10% by doing this for just eight hours. You may also want to think about upgrading from a conventional to an energy-efficient smart thermostat, which can save you up to 12% on heating and 15% on cooling. They can also adapt to your temperature preferences and adjust your settings depending on when you’re home and when you’re away.
  2. Check seals on windows, doors and appliances: Make sure your fridge and freezer are well sealed to keep the cold air where it belongs. Same goes for your doors and windows. A bad seal allows energy to seep out, draining your wallet in the process. Also consider installing Low-E windows (one of McKee Homes staple energy-saving home features). Low-E windows help save energy by reflecting harmful UV rays from the outside of the home and reflecting radiant heat back into the room. This keeps the home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  3. Repair leaky heating ventilation and air conditioning ducts: If the ducts are poorly sealed or insulated, they are likely hiking up your energy bill significantly. Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces are known to increase your heating and cooling bill by hundreds of dollars over the course of a year.

    What’s the purpose of the ducts? As one of the most important systems in your home, they carry the air from your home’s furnace or heat pump and central air conditioner to rooms throughout your house.Insulate or seal ducts, a very cost-effective process, in order to increase your system’s efficiency.

  4. Give your thermostat a nudge: Set your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees when you’re asleep or away from home. Doing so for eight hours can lower your annual heating and cooling costs by around 10%. A programmable thermostat will do the work for you.
  5. Adjust your fridge and freezer temperature: To make your refrigerator and freezer work less hard to maintain the internal temperature, set your fridge temp to 38 degrees and your freezer to 5 degrees. And don’t worry, your food will still stay fresh at these temperatures.

Water

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, hot water use comes in second on the list of highest utility expense. Try cutting back your hot water usage in the following ways:

  1. Stick to warm or cold water when doing laundry
  2. Cut 2 minutes of your shower: Just this little amount can trim your water usage by 10 gallons a month.
  3. Install an efficient shower head: The Environmental Protection Agency says to look for one with the WaterSense label, which can reduce your water usage by close to 3,000 gallons a year.
  4. Be mindful of leaky faucets: Although the drip is slow, it adds up.
  5. Use energyefficient appliances: Buy energy efficient versions of the appliances you use most often: refrigerator, washer, dishwasher and water heater, for long-term savings. A normal dishwater uses 10+ gallons of water during one cycle compared to the new Energy Star label dishwashers that only allow 6 gallons at most to run.
  6. Adjust temperature of water heater: Lower your water heater temperate to 120 degrees (only 20 degrees lower than normal) to reduce your water heating costs by 10% or more. Remember to turn your water heater to the lowest setting when you’re away from home to max out your savings.

Power and lighting

Allowing lights and electronics to run accounts for an estimated 12% of a household’s energy bill.

  1. Educate yourself analyze your home energy usage graphs provided with your monthly bill. Becoming aware of your energy sucks can help you make alterations going forward.
  2. Get an energy audit. On top of educating yourself, request an audit from your energy company. They’ll come out and conduct a thorough inspection, sometimes for free, to identify ways for you to conserve energy.
  3. Use LED bulbs: Using bulbs with the Energy Star seal can save you upwards of $75 per year.
  4. Replace your power strips with smart power strips: Power strips never truly turn off so they are sucking power continuously! By using a smart power strip, the current is cut off to plugged-in electronics when not in use.
  5. Use light dimmers: Set the mood and save electricity all at the same time! By lowering the brightness of your lights, you conserve usage, creating savings in the long run.

 

With these tips, we hope you can lower your energy bill so you can put those savings to more important things, like experiences with family or outfitting your brand-new McKee home 😉

post

The Stress-Free Guide: Hosting Your First Thanksgiving in Your New Home

Thanksgiving every year is a holiday families look forward to. But this year is extra special … you’re hosting your first Thanksgiving in your brand-new home. We know you’ll want to make this year even more memorable than usual without the added stress of doing “more.”

Try our helpful tips for creating a day that’s extraordinary yet easy for you and your family!

 

TIP 1: Plan ahead. Fail to plan, plan to … be stressed!

Get organized early and you’ll fly through the holiday with ease. Start here:

  • Create a menu & grocery list of all ingredients and supplies:
    • Include alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to provide options for those that don’t drink or aren’t of age
    • Look up the grocery store’s current promotions & coupons to save as much as you can
    • Don’t forget non-food items:
      • Festive napkins
      • Appetizer plates
      • Table cloth
      • Tables and chairs
    • Create a guest list and send invites well in advance
      Most families plan ahead for the holidays. Get the word out that you are hosting and encourage people to RSVP as soon as possible. As a nice gesture, create a mail-delivered or specially-designed online invite to show your closest friends and relatives that you would really enjoy their company!
    • Prepare a schedule for the weeks leading up to dinner. Assign roles to different family members to help with the prep.
    • Think about logistics: Where will you set up tables? Where will the guests sit? Where will the food be served – on the dinner table or buffet-style in the kitchen? Will you have a separate help-yourself bar? Are you serving appetizers prior to dinner? Where should you designate the kids-only area? Do you need to acquire more tables and chairs? Will sports or music be playing? If yes to music, create a festive playlist that would appeal to everyone’s tastes.

TIP 2: Decide on your decorations.

Since you’re fresh off a new home build, your dream home is likely to look like just that … a dream. That means you just need to spruce it up with a few seasonal staples, and they don’t even need to be fancy or expensive!

  • Go out in nature to grab holly or berries.
  • Get a couple bouquets of flowers and mix and match them throughout the house (Trader Joes has fabulous floral finds that are budget friendly). The best fall flowers are Snakeroot, Sweet Alyssum, Goldenrod, Helenium (comes in red, orange or yellow), Pansy and Purple Fountain Grass. Mums are also a pretty touch to the front porch.
  • Mini pumpkins and gourds in a variety of colors and sizes to sprinkle on the dinner table, entry way bench, bathroom vanity and living room side tables.
  • Small and large bowls of season fruits for an extra aesthetic “pop”

TIP 3:Prep the high-traffic rooms beforehand.

Begin the day with a clean kitchen, as well as empty dishwasher and trash cans (don’t forget the small bathroom ones). Remove breakable items and fragile furniture so they aren’t ruined by hyper children or red wine sipping guests. Double line your trash cans so when one bag fills up, you can easily move to the next. Make room in your hallway closet for guest’s shoes and coats.

 

TIP 4: Prepare for overnight guests:

For the planned overnight guests and the ones that may have indulged a little too much in your bloody mary bar … follow the below check-list to ensure they have a hotel-like stay:

  • Make guest beds with fresh linens
  • Set out large towels and washcloths on the beds
  • Stock the guest bathrooms with necessities. Grab a few mason jars and fill with q-tips, cotton balls, face wash toothpaste and extra tooth brushes, mouthwash and any other consumable your guest might need during their stay.

TIP 5: Get your stash of cleaning supplies ready to go …

Thanksgiving never goes by without a spill or two! For all-natural home cleaning remedies, be sure to read our previous blog. Here’s a quick guide though:

    • Coffee splatters: White vinegar
    • Red wine spots: White wine (believe it or not)
    • All other major food and drink slips: Tide to Go or baking soda in warm water

TIP 6: Cook in Advance:

Don’t bring on unnecessary stress for yourself by cooking everything on Thanksgiving Day. When creating your menu, make sure to include a timeline for yourself, too. Outline which dishes can be made ahead of time and which ones need to be cooked the day of. For a quick reference, foods that can be pre-made:

  • Casseroles
  • Chopped veggies (slice and bag, but don’t cook)
  • Stuffing, rice or any pasta-based concoctions
  • Salads

Rule of thumb: Almost everything can be pre-made besides the turkey or meat of choice. The rest can be prepped, so it’s ready to be popped in the oven or on the stove top.

TIP 7: Set the table as well as the appetizer and drink area a few days before.

Taking care of smaller tasks, like setting the table, will lessen your load leading up to the “big day.”

A little word to the wise: When planning a seating chart, place yourself closes to the kitchen and seat lefties at the corners, so they’ll be able to eat without hitting their neighbor. Have a “grown ups” table and a “kids-only” table and use place cards to make people feel special (and to avoid any confusion come dinner time).

If you’re providing a drink and/or appetizer bar, neatly line up wine, beer and cocktail glasses, lay out cocktail napkins, appetizer plates and serving china (or dishes). Serving and regular utensils can be placed in a decorative basket for easy organization.

TIP 8: Set-Up a Kid-Focused Area/Room

Well all know that parents enjoy their mingle time on holidays. To make sure the kids are taken care of and enjoying themselves too, designate a specific room or area that’s in sight and outfit it with toys, games, crafts and other activities. Mom and Dad will thank you.

TIP 9: Add a nice holiday scent to your home.

Light candles or add air freshers to the main rooms that your guests will be enjoying themselves: the bathrooms, kitchen and living room. Pumpkin Spice, Apple Cinnamon, Pine Needles or Fireside Smores are the best fragrances for the Fall season.

Not settled in your dream home yet, but would love to enjoy the holidays in it? It’s your lucky day. Our Year-End Savings promotion is going through the end of the year: put a contract on a new home and get up to $5,000 in closing costs plus a “Move-In Package” complete with a FREE Whirlpool washer, dryer and refrigerator!

Give one of our friendly new home specialists a call today (910- 672-7491) or fill out the form below to ask any questions and/or schedule a tour.

From the McKee Homes family to yours, we wish you a magical Thanksgiving season!

 

post

8 Biggest Mistakes Home Buyers Make When Building a Home

Today we’re giving you the 8 biggest mistakes that we see home buyers make when deciding to build a home in hopes that you don’t make the same errors. The phrase “hindsight is 20-20” should never be used when referring to your new home build. Just saying.

MISTAKE #1: Being your own general contractor

A lot of homeowners see a general contractor as just a project “supervisor,” and therefore think they are qualified to be said contractor.

Yes, the contractor’s job is to oversee the home build, which includes but isn’t limited to gathering bids, identifying and sourcing sub-contractors, overseeing timeline and budget, and making sure that progress is being made. What you don’t consider the contractor’s long-standing authority in the industry and their deep-seeded relationships with sub-contractors (electricians, plumbers, etc.). Because of these trusted connections, sub-contractors want to perform exceptional work for general contractors. If they do, general contractors will continue to enlist them for future jobs, thus keeping the sub-contractors in business.

Unfortunately, sub-contractors will be less likely to do quality work (stick to your budget or finish within the agreed-upon time-frame) when working with someone, like a homeowner, whom they’ll never work with again or whom won’t provide any subsequent opportunities for work.

You might see hiring a general contractor as an unnecessary, added expense, but working with a notable, qualified professional will save you time, money and headache in the long run.

MISTAKE #2: Being frugal

Building your home is not a time to cut corners on your budget. When sourcing bids for a builder, beware of outlying low offers. It might sound like music to your ears when a builder promises to build your dream home two months faster and $40,000 less than other builders, but don’t fall for it.

If there’s a significant difference in the timeline or price compared to other bids, the builder is likely just offering what they think will get them the business. The problem lies in the added expenses that will likely ensue as the project progresses due to being excluded in the original offer. The difference in pricing could also hint to the quality of materials this builder is using.

Your home is an investment. Spend your money wisely on the front end so you’re not wasting your money replacing or fixing home features in the future.

MISTAKE #3: Not Covering Your Back

This is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, so we recommend being an active participant in the home-building process and overseeing all the details. This means reading, understanding and reviewing all documents with a lawyer, asking for copies of contractor and sub-contractor insurance policies (if the contractor isn’t insured and an employee gets hurt on the job site, the homeowner could be held responsible), and serious deliberation over your floorplan and home feature selections – once construction commences, changes to a home can be very costly.

MISTAKE #4: Not Asking About Incentives

A builder almost always offers some type of incentive program. Before you sign a contract, be sure to ask the builder or New Home Sales Consultant about special offers that can either reduce the final amount you pay out of pocket (either on the home price or closing costs) or add value to the home (discount to the Design Studio, upgraded features or included appliances and/or amenities).

We at McKee Homes make an effort to provide our homebuyers with as many incentives as we can. Through the end of the 2019 year, we are offering $5,000 off closing costs, as well as a ‘Move-In Package’ complete with a free Whirlpool refrigerator, washer and dryer! Get more details on current incentives and available homes included in the special here.

MISTAKE #5: Not taking location into consideration

When considering a home, take into account the following:

  1. Resale value of the home (don’t concentrate on the cheapest lot). Think about your ROI (return on investment) in the long run.
  2. Land viability. Do your homework on things like the water table, terrain, slope, utility providers, etc.
  3. Size of lot. Do you like to be situated close to your neighbors for a close community feel or do you want a more spacious lot for privacy and tranquility?
  4. Convenience to a grocery store or gas station. Depending on who you are, being close to the busy life is important. To other families, a more quiet, private location suits them better.

MISTAKE #6. Having a budget without a buffer

It’s important to establish a budget when building a home. The budget should include a slush fund that takes into consideration unforeseen circumstances and overages, because even with the best-intentioned bid, incidentals will likely still come up.

There’s also a big difference between the base line price and the actual price of the home. A sales consultant will sell you on the base line price of the home, but it’s your job to know that any upgrades to the floorplan or feature selections (sun room, patio, bonus third floor, deluxe kitchen, decorative lighting packages, L-shaped master shower, etc.) will come with a price. Calculate the base line price and your upgrade costs before putting a deposit down.

MISTAKE #7: Assuming your home will sell during your build timeline

Even if you get financing for your new home build before you have sold your current home, there’s always a chance your home won’t sell before the new home is done (your realtor will tell you otherwise!). Depending on the location and economy, there are many factors that could affect the sale of your home: slow market, appraisal problems, buyers lacking financing, etc.).

When developing your Plan B (because you should have one), consider the following options:

  • Move into your new home and rent your old home while it’s still on the market
  • Make both house payments until your old home sells
  • Walk away from the new home and lose your deposit
  • Explore a new realtor with more creative selling approaches

MISTAKE #8. Working with the wrong builder

Before you choose a builder, do your research:

  • Look at their website not only for examples of work, but also who the builder is. Do they give back to the community? What are their values? Do they take the time to respond to their customers on social media? All these factors will give you a glimpse into the character of the builder.
  • Check reviews online (Google, Facebook, Angie’s List)
  • Ask potential builders to provide examples of their work (photos and in person)
  • Tour neighborhoods in which a builder has built and ask people about their experience

 

It’s important to take the time to find the right builder for you (not just based on the timeline and budget they promise). You will be working with them for the duration of the project and will forever be living in the home they build for you. Pick wisely.

If you’re on the fence about building a home and want to make sure you make the right choice regarding a builder, we’re happy to hop on the phone and answer any questions you may have. Simply fill out the form below or give one our friendly, knowledgeable online home specialists a ring at 910-672-7491.